by Lynn Kim Do

Street Talk | The Ugly & The Pretty

C/MEO COLLECTIVE Midnight Shirt - BNKR // Navy Sunset Joggers - Rustic Dime // Metal Channel Cuff - Tuleste // Long Overcoat - Reformation (similar) // Platform Sandals - Ferragamo (similar)

No, I’m not talking about the way I look before and after I beat my face. I can’t believe that’s an actual thing. I’m talking about the polar variety in interactions I’ve had with other females. They are either downright ugly, disgusting, and can rip me down to the core more that any man could ever do or they are magnificent unicorns that give simple thoughtful gestures that will easily light a beautiful fire in my heart and inspire me to be the best version of me.

So I want to take a real look at these interactions and share some personal girl stories. Grab a seat next to me. You got the wine, right? Okay, yeah, you’re going to need the whole bottle so ditch the glass. Okay, ready?

The Ugly

My bestie led us, like a girl gang out of Crybaby or Grease, towards the exit as she quickly said goodbye to someone I found growing familiarity to as we walked one behind the other. I continued to follow my lady pals through the now ever-so-crowded crowd. Closer and closer. Little by little, she grew more and more familiar until utter recognition. Oh my god, it’s her. My friend warned me that she would be here, that she was here. I just didn’t think. Oh, shit, it was Tiffany*.
Tiffany* is the ex-girlfriend of a guy I was monogamously dating for about three months. They had separated about a year before I entered the picture and we had knew each other through passing. Let me define passing more specifically, I've met her in-person once and I've heard her shamelessly pull the women empowerment card to find resolution in her relationship problems. But I respected her. She was, from my knowledge, a hardworking individual with admirable skills and a wide network of connections. She had influence, as in she held interns and a voice that could lead people and provide invaluable knowledge. Finally, a woman in power. During the three-month relationship, Tiffany* and I had said hi at events. Tiffany and the guy that I was dating at the time were friends and I respected that as I, too, have friends who are exes. Jealously doesn't runs in my bloodline and I like to give everyone the benefit of the doubt—as one should. Whether she did or did not know of our relationship, well, was none of her business but our snapchats were quite telling. (Aka yeah, girl, you knew, alright! No one is fooling anyone.) 
Okay, she deserved respect. She’s my ex’s ex, doesn’t mean we’re enemies. I mean, two exes cancel out right? Step by step, Inch by inch, I got closer. Now face to face. "Hey Tiffany*," I said, expecting the same cordial, typical response from her. Oh but, no. That would be too easy, a waste of the nonfictional reading lesson here. The entire energy in the room began to change, she cocked her face to the left, towards her friend, and I swore her face was going to transform into something new, maybe even Satan’s face. "I don't fuck with you," she said as she threw hella shade at me. "Okay, I get you," I subdued my ignorant archetype from taking over. My friend right behind me looked at me like Tiffany* had just spit in my face and then ate my nonexistent child with her bare hands. She was astonished, an innocent bystander. I was pissed. We continued playing follow the leader until we were all outside.

At that point, my archetype had settled into the pit of my stomach and ripped out my logic, as I wanted to walk back in and throw a lamp at her head so she could lighten the hell up. My friends began to calm me down. Why was I so mad over such a simple statement? I relished it on the way home. I racked my brain raw. It finally occurred to me—it was the absolute betrayal from female to female just because of a man. I knew my ex. He may have said this or that about me, rip my reputation to make himself feel more masculine. He never said anything nice about her, either, yet I continued to give her respect, because I understood that the truth lies in-between two people. She chose to "not fuck with me" because I dated her friend who was her ex and now my ex. Let's forget all the negative things he said about you. Cause I didn't let it affect my judgement every time I saw you. Let's look past the time you preached women empowerment and sticking together, and then attacked my friend in a reckless and unthoughtful way. Okay, you were angry. Let's focus on me and you and this situation.

You allowed a man to dictate your behavior at a public event. Yes, you lost a homegirl like myself. You embarrassed yourself and you are clearly unfit to guide anybody, especially another young malleable female mind, in the industry. You are a hypocrite. You are a part of the problem.

*name has been changed to protect the identity

The Pretty

The Pretty comes more often. They come in large ways, like the story above came in a large way, but more often than that, the small subtle positive notes sent are the most impactful. I want to share one.

As I was on the train to work, literally sprinting from the L line to the N line, running late, per usual, I received a rather large text message from someone I’ve met once but have thoroughly gotten to know through Instagram. And before you tell me that Instagram friendships aren’t real and grill me for living online, be patient with me here. She texted me something along the lines of “a little random thought and ‘thank you’s’.” She continued to insert that Tina’s blog and Neckbreakin’ Style has helped her out personally and emotionally. She left her raw heart out in that text message, sharing her own personal struggles to two ladies that may not have shared a proper drink with her but have gained her trust. She wanted to say thank you for a couple reasons. One is that we solidified the fact that women can be confidant and beautiful without shedding clothes. Another reason is for, simply, being true to ourselves, and then, above all, to do so ethically.

We live in a virtual world where people photoshop their bodies, craft their image any way they want without real genuine substance. It’s scary. But I believe that the audience can see that, people know what’s fake and real. They may not pin point that uncomfortable feeling right away but they know something is up. I’d like to say, the millennials aren’t as dumb as people say we are.

The funny thing about her beautiful text message is that she was teaching us something—courage. How many people do you know will reach out to another female and thank them? Compliment them in a truly honest way. Not “oh, you’re so pretty” but “the way you speak is very powerful” or even “you seriously light up the room with your smile.” Her text message reminded me that everyone has a struggle but it’s how you deal with it that makes one special. I’ve always said that special people are survivors, and I still stand by that today. So I know I’ve said thank you to this brilliant artist and creative mind who I get to call my friend, but I want to say thank you again. And I will never forget this text message. Ever.

 Photos by Daniela Spector